A customer receives an order from a worker in a protective mask while driving through a McDonald’s Corp. restaurant in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Kyle Grillot | Bloomberg | Getty Images
According to an annual study by SeeLevel HX, average transit times in 10 chains slowed by almost half a minute as consumers increasingly conveniently collect their fast food orders from their car.
Thoroughfares have always been a major feature of fast food restaurants, but the Coronavirus pandemic has strongly shifted consumer preferences in favor of the simple pick-up option, which also appears safer for consumers. Drive-through visits increased by 26% in April, May and June according to the NPD group. Taco Bell announced that an additional 4.8 million cars were serviced through the drive-through lanes in the second quarter.
According to SeeLevel HX test buyers, average transit times have slowed by 29.8 seconds this year, which has been weighed down by longer waiting times. Just MC Donalds and Yum Brands’ KFC and Taco Bell chains have cut their time, the research firm said. KFC topped the list for the fastest pass with 283.3 seconds.
The total service times or the time between ordering and picking up the food were shorter this year, possibly partly due to Chains that downsize menus during the pandemic to simplify kitchen operations.
Over the past few years, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and other chains have improved their drive-through lanes in hopes of reducing service times. Fast food restaurants have also tried to shorten their menus to make ordering easier for employees. And tech-focused additions like digital menu boards can get customers to order specific items and are easier to read.
According to the study, about 23% of the restaurants visited by the SeeLevel HX test shoppers had digital menu boards. This was the first time the feature resulted in faster drive through times and saved an average of 12.3 seconds.
SeeLevel HX estimates that one digital menu bar per location can save nearly $ 28,000 annually.
The study, which took place from June to August, also looked at the chains’ safety precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 91% of respondents said that workers wore masks at the payment and pick-up windows, but only 78% said workers wore gloves. More than half of the brands included in the study had clear plastic barriers on all drive-through windows.
While customers can choose drive-through lanes for a contactless experience, the study found that 80% of respondents said their orders were given to them by a representative instead of being placed on a tray or window.